On Thursday April 5, Fairfield’s Studio Art Program welcomed artist Jaime Arredondo for a Public Artist’s Talk and Q&A. The intimate gathering was held in the paint studio of Loyola Hall where Arredondo was able to present and discuss 15 years of work, as well as his current and upcoming projects.

Arredondo was born and raised in Dallas, Texas and strongly identifies with the Mexican and Tejano cultures of Texas. Arredondo attended the University of Dallas where he received his bachelor’s degree in art. After painting seriously and traveling throughout Mexico and Central America, Arredondo went on to receive his master of fine arts in painting from Yale University. Currently, Arredondo resides in New York City where art in general thrives and where he plays an active role in the competitive world of contemporary art. He enjoys taking on projects that challenge him as an artist and as a person.

Arredondo teaches courses in mesoamerican art and culture at both New York University and New School University. Students are assigned Aztec and Mayan readings and then create artwork on different topics within this subject matter. This approach allows students to feel what they’re learning both objectively and empirically.

The artist is also credited with having his work displayed at the Zerega Subway Station in The Bronx, N.Y. His breathtaking, floral creations are featured in mosaic form that commuters can appreciate and admire on a daily basis. The mosaics are full of color and life, and include irises, roses, tulips and mixed flowers.

The most recent project that Arredondo has been working on is illustrating the “Popol Vuh,” a book of cultural, mythological narratives which translates to “book of the community/people.” The story was originally written in 1000 A.D. and was burned by Spaniards in 1524. In 1723, Father Ximènez left Spain and rewrote the book with anonymous K’iche’ Mayans in Guatemala. He retold the stories by memory, a prime example of oral tradition. As a result, Father Ximènez and the K’iche’ Mayans were under threat because the Spaniards made the reciting of the story illegal. If the Spaniards had found them out, they probably would have killed them.

Arredondo was able to beautifully and clearly retell the “Popol Vuh” while flipping through his captivating illustrations. As for his next chapter, Arredondo would like to figure out how to incorporate New York City and urban life into his painting. Arredondo stated that he has many projects and many things that interest him and that, as an artist, he’s very curious.

During the Q&A portion, Arredondo gave great insights about art and life. He said, “The arts heal. They redeem us. They make us better. It reminds us of our humanity and makes us feel more human as a result. The military doesn’t do that, infrastructure doesn’t do that, but art does.” Arredondo also mentioned Plato’s denial of the arts and stated, “Thank God for all the artists in the world. Remember when Plato said we don’t need them? I agree with Aristotle, that art has a healing effect and we need it.” Students in the Studio Art program were in for a treat as Arredondo was also there to provide advice and critique some of their latest work. Overall, we were very lucky to have Arredondo on campus, and be sure to keep an eye out for his upcoming projects.

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